IDEA Public Schools
IDEA Public Schools is a growing network of tuition-free K-12 public charter schools serving more than 13,000 students in 28 schools throughout the Rio Grande Valley, Austin and San Antonio. IDEA is committed to "College For All Children" and has sent 100% of its graduates to college for six consecutive years. The system is headquartered in Weslaco. IDEA schools are targeted towards Hispanic kids in the Rio Grande Valley due to the immense wealth gap with Hispanic kids being the poorer community. There are currently no IDEA schools outside of South Texas and Central Texas.
In the news
IDEA Public Schools consistently rank among the best high schools in America by U.S. News & World Report. With a system of ranking based upon performance, testing, state and national comparison and college readiness, IDEA is considered a Gold Medal school by methodology utilized by U.S. News & World Report and the American Institutes for Research. In 2014, IDEA of Donna, Texas ranked #30 out of all public high schools -- State school, Magnet school and Charter school -- in the United States. U.S. News & World Report also listed IDEA Donna as #5 in Texas and #8 among Charter school. Other IDEA campuses are also ranked among the top high schools in America. IDEA Frontier College Preparatory in Brownsville, Texas ranks #85 in the nation and #12 in the state. IDEA Quest College Preparatory in McAllen, Texas was ranked #117 in the nation and #17 in the state. Most of the other IDEA campuses have been opened too recently to meet the multi-year testing criteria for ranking.
IDEA was founded in 2000 by Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama, Teach For America corps members dedicated to making sure all underserved students can go to college.
- IDEA Frontier - Brownsville (launched 2006)
- IDEA Quest - Edinburg (launched 2006)
- IDEA Donna - Donna (launched 2000)
- IDEA San Benito - San Benito (launched 2008)
- IDEA Mission - Mission (launched 2008)
- IDEA San Juan - San Juan (launched 2009)
- IDEA Alamo - Alamo (launched 2010)
- IDEA Pharr - Pharr (launched 2010)
- IDEA Edinburg - Edinburg (launched 2011)
- IDEA Weslaco - Weslaco (Launched 2011)
- IDEA McAllen - McAllen (Launched 2012)
- IDEA Brownsville- Brownsville (Launched 2012)
All schools in the IDEA system are composed of two campuses, an Academy and a College Preparatory school. The Academy is the school for primary grades, generally kindergarten to fifth grade. The College Prep is a secondary school, a combination of middle school and high school, with grades six to twelve. Starting with College Preparatory classes, students have different teachers for different subjects, as in a traditional school system.
Selection of students is initially carried out by lottery; thereafter, students are taken from the waiting list, first-come, first-served. There is no tuition to attend the schools; however, some schools have an activity fee to help cover certain events, such as field trips or experiments. This fee may be made in payments and may be waived for families with financial limitations.
The average teacher salary in Idea Public Schools is $50,008.
In 2011, the superintendent, Tom Torkelson, received a base pay rate of $238,812 ($34.84 per student).
New schools in the IDEA system are launched with limited grade levels,a kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade class, and a 6th grade class. Each year, as students are promoted, additional grades are added. Within six years, each campus will be fully scaled with grades K-12.
The IDEA Donna campus was founded in 2000 by Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama. The school is currently under the direction of Christina Escamilla, Principal of the IDEA College Preparatory Donna, and Pablo Mejia, Principal of the IDEA Academy Donna. The school is located at 401 South 1st Street, Donna, TX, 78537. IDEA Donna is fully scaled. And now IDEA is an official International Baccalaureate School. It was also voted number #13 High School in the Nation by the US News and World Report
The IDEA Quest campus was founded in 2006 under Dr. Scott Hollinger, principal of the College Preparatory school, and Sharon Chapman, principal of the Academy. The school is located northwest of McAllen, TX. The address is 14001 North Rooth Road, Edinburg, TX 78541. During its first two years, all classes were held in portable buildings; however, the first permanent buildings were ready since Fall 2008, with grades PK-4 and 6-10. IDEA Quest has been fully scaled since 2010. Currently, IDEA Quest Academy is led by Principal Rossy Chapa, and IDEA Quest College Preparatory is led by Principal Jose De Leon. The school's mascot is the TrailBlazer.
The IDEA Frontier campus was founded in 2006 under Ernesto Cantú, principal of the College Preparatory school, and Roberta Harris, principal of the Academy. Currently, the College Prep principal is Michael Hardy. The school is located at the intersection Dakota in Brownsville, TX. During its first two years, all classes were held in portable buildings; however, the first permanent buildings are scheduled to be ready for Fall 2008, with grades PK-4 and 6-10. IDEA Frontier has been fully scaled in 2010. A new campus is expected to open up on August 2012 at 4395 Paredes Line Road starting with kindergarten, first, second and sixth grades.
IDEA San Benito
The IDEA San Benito campus launched in 2008 in San Benito, TX, under the leadership of principal Carrie Sauceda, with grades K and 6-8. IDEA San Benito will be fully scaled in 2013. As of 2009, IDEA San Benito has been adding many different activities such as sports and clubs for its students.
The IDEA Mission campus launched in 2008 in Mission, TX, under the leadership of College Prep principal Natalie Basham and Academy principal Bethany Solís, with grades K and 6-8. Currently, the IDEA Academy Mission is led by Principal Marissa Falcon, and IDEA College Preparatory Mission is led by Principal Erika Acheson. IDEA Mission will be fully scaled in 2013.
IDEA San Juan
The IDEA San Juan campus launched in 2009 in San Juan, TX, under the leadership of College Prep principal Sam Goessling and Academy principal Hilda Helsing, with grades K, 6 and 9. IDEA San Juan will be fully scaled in 2014.
IDEA Alamo was launched in 2010 and will be fully scaled in 2016, the school is under the leadership of Israel Ybarra for college prep, this school is the only school from the district that has an official student council. The school is located in Alamo, Texas. Their mascot is the griffin, an animal of Greek mythology. IDEA Alamo's school colors are purple and gold. IDEA Alamo also has a wider diversity. Hispanics are the majority yet the school has White and Mongol students.
- "Contact Us." IDEA Public Schools. Retrieved on June 27, 2009.
- "Average Teacher Salary at IDEA Public Schools." Teacher Salary Info. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- "IDEA Frontier Leadership Team". IDEA Public Schools. Retrieved 10 December 2012.